Item description for Fortress Introduction to the History of Christianity in the United States by Nancy Koester...
Overview This thorough and lively overview of Christian history in the US, from colonial times to the present, is informed by both classical and recent scholarship and is written for the non-specialist. Four key insights frame the book. Unlike many histories, Koester offers ample coverage of Protestant, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic developments. Includes black and white illustrations, maps, glossary, and other study aids.
Publishers Description This thorough and lively overview of Christian history in the United States, from colonial times to the present, is informed by both classical and recent scholarship and is written for the non-specialist. Four key insights frame the book. Christianity in America: (1) is chiefly a story of popular movements, (2) is influenced by conflict and engagement with modern ideas, (3) directly affects public life, and (4) expresses its identity and seeks its mission in a pluralistic culture. Unlike many histories, Koester offers ample coverage of Protestant, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic developments. Includes black & white illustrations, maps, glossary, and other study aids.
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Nancy Koester teaches religion at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. An ordained Lutheran minister, she has also written"Fortress Introduction to the History of Christianity in the United States" and "Journeying through Lent with Luke"
Nancy Koester currently resides in St. Paul, in the state of Minnesota. Nancy Koester was born in 1954.
Nancy Koester has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Fortress Introduction to the History of Christianity in the United States?
An Interesting Look at the Development of American Religion May 9, 2009
This book did an excellent job of putting the confusing mixture of beliefs that I was presented as a child in perspective. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to either understand the roots of their own religious experience or the development of American thought.
The religious history seemed to be meticulously researched and was presented in an easy to read and interesting manner.
The questions at the end of the chapters were overkill for me as a casual reader. The book was obviously written to be used in a classroom.
The only problem that I have with this book is that I think that at times the author makes only a cursory effort to put the religious events in the overall context of what was happening in the country and the world. She did attempt to do this but it seemed forced and shallow at places.
An Informative, Sensitive History and a Valuable Resource for Further Studies Oct 23, 2007
Nancy Koester's book was an enjoyable and informative read. It is the first book that I read specifically on the history of Christianity in the U.S., and it whet my appetite for more. She not only covers the main branches and denominations of American Christianity with their key influential figures, she also explores cultural, ethnic and non-Christian religious impacts on Christianity. She helps one sense the pain and struggle of Native and African Americans as well as others, including women, to find equality within American society. One feels the religious turbulence caused by major wars along with aggressive immigration, industrialization and encroaching modernity. The clash between liberals and conservatives via issues such as the Social Gospel and Darwinian evolution are documented. Chapter 6, Responses to Modernity, was a helpful guide to my study of new 19th and early 20th century American movements such as Adventism, Christian Science and Pentecostalism. Per the author's suggestion, I purchased Paul Conkin's American Originals: Homemade Varieties of Christianity (1997) to study this area more.
After reading the book, I better appreciated the author's preface which states: "The history of Christianity in America is complex; no two historians would introduce it in quite the same way. New perspectives are always emerging." Her awareness of this complexity increases the value of this book which attempts to address it fairly. She says: "Together with specialized works, broad and synthetic studies have contributed" to the text. This included secular histories of the U.S. "as well as a few classic surveys of Christianity in America." Special mention is made of Sidney Ahlstrom's A Religious History of the American People (1972). Koester recommends that instructors combine her text with "a more specialized work on American religion, giving students both an introduction and a focus area of the instructor's or students' choice." Suggestions for further reading, useful websites, and discussion questions at the end of each chapter help make this book a very useful introductory text. I highly recommend it.
Speed Learning - Fast, Fascinating History Apr 1, 2007
A remarkable summary - in less than 200 pages - of more than 500 years of religious life in America, this book was hard to put down. The story is compelling and Koester's clean, crisp prose propels us through the years and we see history zooming past like scenery on a high speed chase.
Koester has a wonderful way of distilling complex themes into reasonable summaries, leaving me intrigued, wanting to learn more about so many of the people and topics covered.
Perhaps her greatest strength in this book, though, is her sympathetic treatment of the various theologies at work. Never mocking or dismissive, (yes, willing to portray the down side as well as the positive aspect of each religious movement) she writes candidly but respectfully, taking each movement on its own terms, using theology not just history and sociology to describe peoples' motivations, and letting history have its say, leaving us draw our own conclusions.
Of special interest, each chapter ends with three short sections: 1) Suggestions for Further Reading - with a few significant works usually calling out a particular chapter in each book 2) Web Sites - these are not hobbyist sites, but serious and scholarly selections, usually from universities or government archives 3) Discussion Questions - which read as much like essay questions or homework assignments as book club discussion starters
One other detail of the book that I really enjoyed: the front section has a 3-page time-line of significant dates and events, but they are a mixture of political and religious significance so that you can see the interweaving of these threads in America.
This book is a quick read and a great reference. It could be paired with any number of books for courses on this and related topics. For example, I'm also reading The Great Experiment: Faith and Freedom in America which provides some pithy excerpts of primary sources on the narrower topic of faith and freedom in America. But don't miss Koester's "Introduction..." . It will give you an excellent summary of a fascinating story that is still unfolding.